The Final Fantasy VII remake was first announced at E3 in 2015. That’s so long ago it might as well have been announced during the Peloponnesian War. But now, after five very long years, one of the greatest video games ever is returning to stores with a modern upgrade. Does it live up to the hype? Is it a remake worthy of the original? We’re still making our way through the game, so keep an eye out for our review this week. Based on other reviews it sounds like the new Final Fantasy VII has been worth the wait, even if there’s too much of it to play.
Carolyn Petit of Polygon says how you feel about the new longer version and its changes will likely depend on what you thought the issues were (or were not) in the original.
“So what happens when those technical limitations are gone, replaced with 23 years of progress? Final Fantasy 7 Remake happens, but how you feel about Square Enix’s effort to remake Final Fantasy 7 today—greatly expanded and unhindered by the technology of yesteryear—may say more about your feelings on technology and nostalgia than the game itself. You may see the original as a timeless masterwork or a dated relic, and the lens through which you view this second chance to get it ‘right’ will depend on what you think was ‘wrong’ about the game in the first place.”
IGN‘s Tom Marks writes that there’s a lot to love about this updated version, but all of the extra time-consuming filler to make the game longer was not one of them.
“The expectations around Final Fantasy 7 Remake are sky high, and it mostly manages to deliver. Its combat is top notch, its enemy variety kept me constantly entertained, and seeing this snippet of story fleshed out with real emotional arcs and the previously hidden humanity behind Midgar filled me with pure joy. The boring RPG filler and Kingdom Hearts-esque convolution that was inserted in between did stop my ear-to-ear grin from being constant, but never long enough to kill the mood completely. That leaves this remake as one that still delivered on letting me relive (part of) a classic in stupendous fashion, while also standing as a great RPG all its own.”
Dan Silver of The Telegraph thinks that when the Final Fantasy VII remake is good it’s “remarkable.” The problem is stretching out of the story was not a good idea.
“The unfortunate truth is there’s just not enough interesting story or content to go round—and that’s coming from a self-confessed obsessive who spent north of 100 hours playing through the original not just once but twice, eking out every last easter egg, secret and collectible to be found along the way. The hit and miss attempts at fleshing out minor characters’ back stories are one thing; adding cardboard cut-out characters with uninspired side quests is extraneous in the extreme, and smacks of the developers padding out the running time once the decision to release episodically was taken.”
Vice‘s Matthew Gault praised the game’s new battle system and its rich storyline, in one of the game’s most effusive reviews.
“In Final Fantasy VII Remake, everything looks like how I imagined it when I was a kid. This is not the Final Fantasy VII I remember, but the dream of a Final Fantasy VII. It’s a surreal, staggering, and loving tribute to a beloved role-playing game. The voice work, the music, the story, and the combat system are rebuilt from the ground up and brimming with detail.”
At Kotaku Jason Schreier, who had high praise for the game’s improved script, says he’s still thinking about the ending and its consequences, which he says will be hotly debated.
“Final Fantasy VII Remake is a phenomenal game, one that any fan of the series should play. I’m not sure if people who haven’t played Final Fantasy VII will appreciate it as much or find the story all that comprehensible. But if you have at least a basic familiarity with the adventures of Cloud and crew, you’re likely to appreciate what is one of the most audacious remakes that we’ve ever seen in any medium.”
Cody Gravelle of Screen Rant writes the game is the best installment in the franchise in a long time, and might even rival the original.
“There’s a lot to say about Final Fantasy 7 Remake—how it wasn’t afraid to shake up the story in parts where it mattered, or how it trusted its characters to hold up under increased screen time and scrutiny. How it’s a game that will frustrate with difficult boss mechanics or out-dated mini-game mechanics in an effort to preserve nostalgia or create a challenge, and how it perseveres despite that through sheer charm. Above all, though, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a picture-perfect return to Midgar. It’s one that’s been a long time coming and, as it prepares its players for the next installment, it’s possible that it’s also laid the foundation for what could be the greatest series of Final Fantasy games ever put together—providing the quality holds up once the story begins to really expand in the next installment, of course.”
Amanda Yeo of Mashable offered a unique perspective on the remake. She never played the original, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the updated version.
“Over 20 hours in, I’m enjoying how well Final Fantasy VII Remake has kept the main story at the forefront. There are clear narrative breaks for side quests, so you aren’t off searching for cats while urgent missions lurk in the background, but they’re few, short, and not too distracting. There’s just the right number of side quests to make the world feel full and players feel accomplished, while still keeping up the pace.”
The Verge‘s Andrew Webster says a remake was always going to be hard to “harvest” the energy of the original, but that’s exactly what the remake has done.
“It translates the experience into something modern, without losing much of that classic charm. It’s not the whole experience—FFVIIR only encompasses the opening Midgar section of the story, which amounts to the opening of the game, with no indication of how the rest will be released—and it’s certainly not perfect. There are some new aspects that feel unnecessary, moments that serve as filler, and areas where the game can be frustratingly dated. It’s messy and beautiful, thrilling and confusing—which is to say, the remake is 100 percent Final Fantasy VII.”
If the most common complaint about the Final Fantasy VII Remake is too much game, we’re not exactly upset or worried.
Final Fantasy VII Remake comes to stores on April 10, 2020.
Featured Image: Square Enix